Germany: A Recycling Program That Actually Works

July 11, 2017 by  
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In 2009, President Obama was inaugurated, Facebook had 360 million users, and the iPhone was still a rather new invention. In 2017, President Trump was inaugurated, Facebook has hit 2 billion users, and we have a robot that disassembles old iPhones…

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Germany: A Recycling Program That Actually Works

Obama spends $500 million on climate change before Trump takes office

January 18, 2017 by  
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With mere days before President-elect Donald Trump takes office, President Barack Obama has made one final move to help tackle climate change . The U.S. Department of State announced yesterday they’ve given a $500 million grant to the Green Climate Fund (GCF). That $500 million is just part of a $3 billion commitment, one many people fear Trump won’t honor. The GCF enjoyed worldwide support from 194 governments when it was founded back in 2010 to help developing countries reduce emissions and adjust to climate change, and fight a global temperature increase of 2 degrees Celsius . In 2014 the United States committed to investing $3 billion to the fund. The new $500 million adds to an additional $500 million granted last year, leaving America still $2 billion short of their pledge even as a climate change denier is slated to take office. Related: Green Climate Fund promises paradigm shift in clean energy funding Trump said he’d defund global climate action , including the GCF, during his campaign; the GCF is helping carry out the Paris agreement . However, it doesn’t matter if Trump blusters over this $500 million – he’s not getting it back. President Obama was able to dodge a Republican-filled Congress to send the money to GCF by using executive power to draw the money from the state department. A movement of almost 100,000 people called for the president to transfer the full $2.5 billion to the GCF, but leaders of the movement are still calling the $500 million a victory. Tamar Lawrence-Samuel, Associate Research Director for Corporate Accountability International , told The Guardian, “The Obama administration is refusing to let President-elect Trump’s posse of oil barons and climate deniers dictate how the world responds to the climate crisis. This victory is the climate justice movement’s opening salvo to the Trump presidency. And we’re not going away.” Via The Guardian and Grist Images via Ash Carter on Flickr and IIP Photo Archive on Flickr

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Obama spends $500 million on climate change before Trump takes office

Obama shuts the door on Arctic and Atlantic drilling for next five years

November 30, 2016 by  
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As Trump’s incoming administration makes its complete disinterest in protecting the environment clearer each day, it seems President Obama is doing all he can to enshrine whatever green policies he can during his final days in office. The current administration recently  announced a ban on new oil and gas drilling in parts of the Arctic and Atlantic oceans for the next five years — long enough to outlast Trump’s first (and hopefully last) presidential term. The Interior Department’s finalized oil and gas leasing plan for 2017-2022 was originally supposed to open up beaches from Virginia to North Carolina to new drilling, as well as the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas in the Arctic Ocean. However, after massive opposition from conservationists and businesses in the affected areas, the administration has cancelled most of the proposed leases. Unfortunately, offshore drilling is still allowed to move forward in 10 lease areas in the Gulf of Mexico, but this decision is far better than what was initially proposed. Since last spring, environmental groups have been gathering signatures from everyday American opposed to offshore drilling, presenting more than 2 million signatures to the President. In addition, more than 1,100 businesses along the Atlantic Ocean joined together to voice their opposition, including hundreds in heavily Republican states. Related: Abandoned oil and gas wells are leaking methane across the USA “This move locks the Gulf into another five years of corporate giveaways – with decades more of climate pollution, offshore oil spills, devastation to fisheries, and health impacts to local communities. A true transition from fossil fuels doesn’t allow for energy sacrifice zones, especially when we know the climate can’t handle further fossil fuel development. Along with the Arctic and the Atlantic, we need permanent protection for all our coasts to have a fighting chance at stabilizing the climate,” said Lindsey Allen, Executive Director of Rainforest Action Network While this new decision obviously puts some roadblocks in Donald Trump’s plans to expand US oil and gas production, it’s important not to grow complacent. It would take some years to undo the protections Obama has just granted the Arctic and Atlantic, but it is possible. In fact, prominent Republican lawmakers , including House Speaker Paul Ryan and Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski has been quick to condemn the decision, vowing to overturn it. This is a major victory for environmentalists, but in many ways, it’s only the beginning.   Via Environment New York Images via Wikimedia Commons ( 1 , 2 )

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Obama shuts the door on Arctic and Atlantic drilling for next five years

8 ways to help the water protectors at the Standing Rock Reservation

November 23, 2016 by  
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As the world watches the Dakota Access Pipeline protests and the horrific police attacks that have injured hundreds of people , you may be wondering what you can do to help. Despite President Obama calling for a halt to construction to the DAPL pipeline in September to explore a new route, the company behind the 1,172-mile-long underground pipeline is forging ahead with construction anyway – in defiance of the president’s orders . Meanwhile hundreds of activists fighting for clean water have faced violent resistance and brutal attacks by local police , including police attacks this past weekend with rubber bullets, freezing water and tear gas that left 26 people hospitalized and hundreds injured . If you want to support the water protectors but are feeling helpless, know that you CAN make a difference from your home through phone calls, donations, and social media . You can even close accounts at banks financing the pipeline or go to North Dakota to stand with the protesters . Here are eight ways to help the Standing Rock activists. Support the protesters financially on GoFundMe and FundRazr So far people have donated over $1.5 million on Sacred Stone Camp’s GoFundMe campaign , but with winter coming they still need donations. Campaign organizer Howaste Wakiya says money will go towards necessities like food and blankets, means of power generation like solar panels , and winter gear like wood stoves and teepee liners. As protesters are arrested, the activists also need help with legal defense; you can contribute at FundRazr . If you’d like to donate a physical item Sacred Stone Camp has a list of supplies they need on their website and an Amazon wishlist . Related: Dakota Access Pipeline protesters raise over $1 million on GoFundMe Sign 21 different petitions at Change.org You can make your voice heard on the issue through numerous petitions online. Change.org has a ” Stop the Dakota Access Pipeline ” movement page with 21 different petitions. There you can sign the Rezpect Our Water petition started by Standing Rock youth or petitions targeted towards the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and President Obama . Call President Obama, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and North Dakota governor Jack Dalrymple Let the president know how you feel about the Dakota Access Pipeline. You can call the White House at (202) 456-1111 or at (202) 456-1414. You can send an email here or send a letter to The White House, 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington, DC, 20500. You can call the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers at (202) 761-0011, fill out a contact form on their website, or write to Headquarters, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, 441 G Street NW, Washington, DC, 20314. You can also reach out to North Dakota governor Jack Dalrymple at (701) 328-2200 or via his website’s contact form . You can write to him at Office of Governor, State of North Dakota, 600 East Boulevard Avenue, Bismarck, ND, 58505. Call or email Energy Transfer Partners executives Tell Energy Transfer Partners executives to stop building the pipeline . TheFreeThoughtProject.com provided contact information for three Energy Transfer executives . You can call Executive Vice President Lee Hanse at (210) 403-6455 or email him at Lee.Hanse@energytransfer.com. You can call Vice President Glenn Emery at (210) 403-6762 or email him at Glenn.Emery@energytransfer.com. Both men can be written to at 800 E Sontera Boulevard #400, San Antonio, Texas 78258. You can also call Lead Analyst Michael (Cliff) Waters at (713) 989-2404 or email him at Michael.Waters@energytransfer.com. You can write to him at 1300 Main Street, Houston, Texas, 77002. Join a local peaceful protest You can search Facebook events under #NoDAPL to find an event near you, or organize your own peaceful protest at ActionNetwork.org . Peacefully protest or close accounts at banks financing the pipeline Multiple large banks are financing the Dakota Access Pipeline, including Citibank, Wells Fargo, and the Bank of America. According to Food & Water Watch Senior Researcher Hugh MacMillan who spoke to Amy Goodman of Democracy Now! , there are numerous banks from around the world involved. Find out if your bank is funding the pipeline in Democracy Now!’s interview or in this article by Yes! Magazine . If you bank with an institution financing the pipeline, you could consider closing your account, peacefully protesting at bank locations, or contacting bank executives. Create a #NoDAPL Solidarity video to share on social media If you can’t travel to North Dakota yourself, you can show solidarity on social media outlets like Facebook and Twitter. On the Sacred Stone Camp’s Solidarity with Standing Rock Tumblr page, you can upload a video or picture with the hashtag #NoDAPL showing your support. A Tumblr account is not necessary to post to the page. Raise money creatively, such as through a bake sale What if you want to donate but don’t have much extra money to spare? The author’s friend held a bake sale and garage sale at her home in California and raised nearly $400 for Sacred Stone Camp’s GoFundMe. You just might have a few items lying around you don’t need anymore and could sell or donate; or if you’re crafty or love to bake you might be able to make items to sell to raise money. Share your ideas and the ways you’ve either raised money or supported the movement on social media with Inhabitat on Facebook , Twitter , and in the comments section of this post. + Standing Rock Sioux Tribe + Sacred Stone Camp Images via Fibonacci Blue on Flickr ( 1 , 2 , 3 ), Sacred Stone Camp GoFundMe , screenshot , Lars Plougmann on Flickr , Carl Wycoff on Flickr , Sacred Stone Camp Facebook , and Wikimedia Commons

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8 ways to help the water protectors at the Standing Rock Reservation

How stone can help you create a more sustainable home

November 23, 2016 by  
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From the pyramids at Giza, to Stonehenge, to Machu Picchu, it is no coincidence that all of the longest lasting human structures are made from stone. Stone lasts forever, is natural, and is readily available in the environment. When it comes to outdoor landscaping or interior applications that see a lot of use and moisture (i.e. kitchens and bathrooms), natural stone is often the most durable and lowest-maintenance choice for surfaces. Unlike wood, plastics or composite materials, stone will not rot, mildew or disintegrate over time. From granite, to marble, to slate, read on to find out more about how natural stone can help you create a more beautiful and sustainable home. The stone walls at Saksaywayan outside of Cusco, Peru, are still in great shape after 1000 years! photo courtesy of wikimedia Durability = sustainability As I argued in my article Resilient Design is Green Design , the ability to stand the test of time is the epitome of sustainability. Out of all of the building materials that humans can utilize to create structures, stone is the longest lasting, and for this reason, the most sustainable. Image via Pixabay Architects and builders have always held stone in a high regard due to its durability, aesthetic, and ease of maintenance, but one of the most compelling reasons for homeowners to consider stone is its environmental sustainability . And this doesn’t just mean “sustainability” in the stereotypical treehugger sense of low carbon footprint, but also the material’s ability to endure over time. Unlike bricks or concrete, natural stone requires no baking or heating and is a fully formed, finished product upon extraction. This means no additional CO2 needs to be released in producing it. Natural stone also doesn’t have toxic chemicals like VOCs that can off-gas into your home, polluting the indoor air, unlike synthetic surfaces such as carpeting and vinyl. If positioned optimally within a house, natural stone has the ability to passively heat and cool a home due to its ability to store heat and release it gradually. And of course, the biggest appeal to most homeowners is that natural stone has an incredibly long lifespan with very low maintenance, which means that you are not going to have to refinish it, replace it, or send it to a landfill in 15 years. photo courtesy of Artistic Tile Low maintenance = sustainability Natural stone typically doesn’t show dirt and wear and tear in the way that materials such as wood, gypsum board or vinyl do. It doesn’t easily get scratched, waterlogged or stained, and is easy to clean. An imperviousness to moisture makes materials like limestone, marble, and slate popular choices for bathrooms, while sturdy, scratch-proof, and easy-to-clean granite is an obvious choice for kitchen countertops that endure sharp knives, liquids and food spills (and the microbes that come with them). Outdoors, designers like to use stone for everything from patios to walkways, retaining walls to landscape planters. Stone’s longevity and durability makes it a smart investment that, if cared for properly, means it won’t need to be replaced. This keeps wasteful, synthetic materials out of landfill. photo courtesy of Connecticut Stone Stone is a natural material Stone is a natural material that comes straight from the earth, unlike most other commonly used building materials. How the stone is quarried, processed, and transported affects its environmental footprint, as does the distance the stone must travel to get to you. The kinds of natural stone endemic to where you live are likely to differ from those found in other regions, but with so many different types of stone available, finding something local that fits your taste and budget should be fairly easy. Gneiss, granite, limestone, marble, quartzite, sandstone, and serpentine are all common to North America and exist in a range of colors and textures. Consumers who value environmental sustainability will be happy to know that there are stone quarry sites within 500 miles of nearly any building site in the United States and Canada. photo courtesy of Matthew Giampietro, Waterfalls Fountains and Gardens Inc. Using stone outdoors As Mother Nature’s original green building material, natural stone is the best material available when it comes to withstanding the elements and aging gracefully outdoors. Because of its ability to weather harsh changes in temperature and moisture conditions, landscape designers prefer stone for everything from patios to walkways, retaining walls to planters. photo courtesy of Stone Pavers Concrete Natural stone can add charm to your yard or garden by adding a sense of timelessness. While concrete, wooden decking and other manmade materials often impose rigid lines and hierarchy onto the nature world, stone fits organically into nature’s design. Stone is also just the most long-lasting outdoor material, hands down. Since it won’t warp, rot or disintegrate over time, it’s an ideal choice for withstanding weather, biological and environmental stresses. Termites, beetles and funguses may enjoy munching on wood, but they can’t eat stone. Stone doesn’t erode over time with wind and rain, unlike soil. While ceramics like brick and concrete are porous and can crack and absorb water, most types of outdoor stone are much harder, and generally last longer. photo courtesy of Smokey Mountain Tops Patios, walkways and outdoor ground cover For outdoor patios and walkways, the choice often comes down to stone, brick, wooden decking, or gravel. Gravel is inexpensive and easy to work with, but erodes over time, needs constant raking to look nice, and is often tracked into the house. Wooden decking provides a nice warm feeling to the touch, but need to be sealed and stained on a regular basis, and still eventually will give in to dry rot. (Trust me, I just fell through a rotten board on my wooden deck the other day, and it wasn’t fun.) Concrete has the advantage of a smooth, even surface, but it needs to be poured and can also contribute to flooding and water runoff where it doesn’t allow proper drainage. While stone is one of the most expensive outdoor materials, it has the advantage of long life and durability with little maintenance. Depending on how it is installed, spaced stone pavers can also allow greenery and soil to break up the hardscape, providing a green look, and allowing water to drain naturally. photo courtesy of SBI Materials Landscaping with natural stone For retaining walls and raised planter beds, stone can’t be beat. Landscape plants and trees need a constant supply of water, and that irrigation can lead to erosion of soil and to the disintegration of competing materials, like wood, over time. Strategically placed stones can reinforce the shape of your designed landscape with retaining walls and berms, preventing soil erosion. Although it is heavier and more expensive than wood, natural stone makes a far more durable and long-lasting material for planters. photo courtesy of Lundhs Using natural stone indoors Stone is as resilient indoors as it is outdoors. From the kitchen countertop to the bathroom floor, natural stone is easy to clean with mild dish soap and water, is naturally slip resistant, and is one of the most durable surfaces on the planet. According to the Natural Stone Council , stone can last more than 100 years with proper maintenance. Its lifecycle continues beyond the life of a building, because of the fact that it’s so recyclable and can be reused in so many other applications. photo courtesy of Calvetta Brothers Stone flooring Stone is a great flooring material for high traffic areas, because of its innate durability. Stone is pretty hard to scratch or damage, and any damage that does occur tends to be hard to see due to color variations and texture. Unlike vinyl or wood, natural stone will hardly ever show a scratch or be dulled, and needs only regular sweeping or vacuuming to look as good as new. If you are considering radiant floor heating for your home, stone is the best material to combine with that type of heating system due to the natural ability of stone to absorb and retain heat (and not absorb moisture). Using stone for walls One might not immediately think of stone as a common wall surface aside from a kitchen backsplash, but walls can be a great use for recycled and salvaged stone. Stone walls, like stone floors, are very resilient, can’t be easily damaged, and don’t show fingerprints and dirt. Stone is also readily recyclable. Old stone buildings can be deconstructed and used for retaining walls , and small flat stones can be repurposed in mosaic wall designs. photo courtesy of MSI Using stone in your bathroom If there’s one room in the home that takes the best advantage of stone’s imperviousness to moisture, it’s the bathroom. From limestone showers, to pebbled shower floors, to slate sinks, to marble countertops, stone is easy to clean, resistant to wear, and in many cases, highly resistant to staining. Stones used for bathroom applications must be pretreated to prevent damage from bath products, cleaning products, and water, and must be resealed regularly. If maintained properly, natural stone is a long term investment that adds luxury, durability and character to any bathroom. Stone in the kitchen Many cooks are more passionate about their counter space than they are about their range, since countertops are where the bulk of the food preparation takes place. Countertops endure daily wear from a range of sharp utensils, spills, extreme temperatures, and mechanical force, causing synthetic materials to wear over time and become dingy. Granite and marble are ideal materials for kitchen countertops because of their sturdiness, imperviousness to moisture and heat, and lack of absorption (which makes them easier to keep clean and hygienic). Very difficult to scratch and easy to wipe down, granite helps keep bacteria at bay, making it the counter material of choice for those who are serious about cooking. Its inherently cool temperature makes it ideal for working on with pastry or pizzas, and a resistance to warping under high heat makes working with hot dishes a breeze. The bottom line is that stone is a great choice throughout any part of a house for durability, quality, low-maintenance and environmental sustainability. To learn more about different types of natural stone, check out the Natural Stone Institute . + Natural Stone Institute Article underwritten by the Natural Stone Institute

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How stone can help you create a more sustainable home

How millions of Africans could lose access to electricity under Trump

November 11, 2016 by  
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As climate change denier Donald Trump prepares to enter the White House, many wonder what repercussions his climate change policies will have for Africans. Although the continent contributes only 3.8 percent of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions , its inhabitants could be among those people hit hardest by climate change. President Barack Obama tackled the challenge in Africa through a variety of projects, but many people think Trump’s insular comments about climate change and energy might lead to policies that could undo his hard work. Obama has attempted to mitigate the effects of climate change through a series of initiatives across Africa: he launched the $7 billion Power Africa project that aims to provide electricity from renewable energy to six nations , which would bring electricity to 230 million people who currently go without. He also launched the $34 million Climate Services for Resilient Development project to help African communities analyze climate data and plan for climate change risks. He also set aside millions of dollars for the U.S. Agency for International Development to help Africans prepare for climate change through funding agricultural systems, urban planning, and water and health services. Related: Africa Renewable Energy Initiative works towards 10,000 MW of clean power by 2020 Meanwhile Donald Trump has tweeted global warming is an “expensive hoax” and appears to have turned his focus inward to America, saying he’ll promote energy from coal and fracking to create jobs in the United States. Experts warn if he reverses Obama’s policies programs, Trump could leave millions of people in Africa without power and generally more vulnerable to climate change. In 2015 remarks to African leaders, President Obama said, “I believe Africa’s rise is not just important for Africa, it’s important to the entire world. We will not be able to meet the challenges of our time – from ensuring a strong global economy to facing down violent extremism, to combating climate change, to ending hunger and extreme poverty – without the voices and contributions of one billion Africans.” Let’s hope Donald Trump considers the rest of the world and not just America when he sets climate policies. Via Quartz Africa Images via M-KOPA Solar and DFID – UK Department for International Development on Flickr

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How millions of Africans could lose access to electricity under Trump

President Obama says Army is exploring rerouting the Dakota Access Pipeline

November 3, 2016 by  
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Will President Barack Obama take action on the Dakota Access Pipeline ? In an interview with NowThis posted this week he said the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is exploring “ways to reroute” the oil pipeline protested by Standing Rock Sioux Tribe members and their supporters in North Dakota . President Obama’s statement sounded hopeful but may not result in action soon; the president said he would let the confrontation “play out for several more weeks.” When asked if his administration would intervene in the conflict over the Dakota Access Pipeline, President Obama said, “We’re monitoring this closely and I think as a general rule, my view is that there is a way for us to accommodate sacred lands of Native Americans . I think right now the Army Corps is examining whether there are ways to reroute this pipeline in a way.” Related: In surprise announcement, US government blocks the Dakota Access Pipeline Some people didn’t seem pleased with the president’s comments. In a statement, Morton County Chairman Cody Schulz said, “Rather than creating further uncertainty, the President should be sending us the support and resources necessary to enforce the law and protect people’s right to peacefully protest.” Energy Transfer Partners spokesperson Vicki Granado said they didn’t know of any reroute considerations and they still expected to obtain an easement to start building the pipeline portion that would pass beneath the Missouri River. When asked about treatment of the protesters, President Obama said, “I mean, it’s a challenging situation. I think that my general rule when I talk to governors and state and local officials whenever they’re dealing with protests – including, for example, during the Black Lives Matters protests – is there’s an obligation for protesters to be peaceful and there’s an obligation for authorities to show restraint.” He said he hoped everyone could have the opportunity to be heard with both sides avoiding situations where people could be hurt. Standing Rock Sioux Tribe Chairman Dave Archambault II said in a statement, “We believe President Obama and his administration will do the right thing.” You can watch NowThis’s interview with the president here . Via NowThis Twitter and NPR Images via Nick Knupffer on Flickr and Sacred Stone Camp on Facebook

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President Obama says Army is exploring rerouting the Dakota Access Pipeline

President Obama proclaims state of emergency due to Hurricane Matthew

October 7, 2016 by  
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President Obama announced a state of emergency in anticipation of Hurricane Matthew’s arrival in Florida . His declaration includes federal aid and authorizes the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Department of Homeland Security ” to coordinate all disaster relief efforts .” Meanwhile, Hurricane Matthew hurtles towards Florida with maximum sustained winds of around 120 miles per hour . Scientists from the National Hurricane Center (NHC) call Matthew ” extremely dangerous ” even as the hurricane diminished to a Category 3 storm during the night. NHC said there could be “potentially disastrous impacts.” Florida has not been hit with many storms that have winds as forceful as Matthew’s. About 1.5 million people have left the Atlantic coast, fleeing inland as the hurricane approaches. Around 300,000 homes in Florida have already lost power. Related: How to Prepare Your Home and Family for a Hurricane or Superstorm White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said according to scientists , Hurricane Matthew could be “largest and most powerful hurricane to hit the United States in a decade” and that it is a storm “people should take seriously.” He said if anyone doubts the severity of the storm, “they need only look at the images that are coming back from Haiti.” According to U.S. National Weather Service , Matthew could be the most forceful storm to hit particularly northeast Florida in 118 years. Florida governor Rick Scott urged residents in potentially affected areas to evacuate at once. In a news conference, he said, “You need to leave now. Evacuate, evacuate, evacuate…Your safety, not comfort, is the most important thing.” President Obama’s state of emergency applies to Florida, and according to CNBC in phone calls with state governors he also offered federal resources if necessary to South Carolina, North Carolina, and Georgia. The hurricane center is likely to move “near or over” Florida’s east coast tonight, according to NHC, and could move over South Carolina and Georgia coasts on Saturday. “Maximum sustained winds” could still be 120 miles per hour. Via The New York Times and CNBC Images via Wikimedia Commons and screenshot

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President Obama proclaims state of emergency due to Hurricane Matthew

President Obama and Leonardio DiCaprio will meet at the White House to talk climate change

September 30, 2016 by  
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On Monday, October 3, President Obama will meet with Leonardo DiCaprio at a festival on the White House lawn to talk about taking on climate change. The South by South Lawn (SXSL) event will focus on “ideas, art, and action” for making positive change, including discussion with climate scientist Dr. Katharine Hayhoe and the US premiere of DiCaprio’s documentary Before the Flood . Inspired by Austin’s SXSW festival, SXSL brings together creativity and entrepreneurship for the purpose of finding solutions for the world’s biggest challenges. Hosted on the White House’s South Lawn, the event will be live-streamed for all to see. The main event will be a discussion between President Obama and Leonardo DiCaprio regarding “the importance of protecting the one planet we’ve got for future generations.” The actor-turned-environmentalist will premiere his National Geographic documentary Before the Flood for the first time in front of a US audience, which follows his journey a U.N. Ambassador of Peace raising international awareness of global warming . Related: Leonardo DiCaprio named UN Messenger of Peace SXSL will also feature engaging panel discussions on problem-solving technology, sustainable food choices, and the role of everyday citizens in affecting global change. Music will be performed by The Lumineers, Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings, and DJ Beverly Bond. A student film festival, interactive art exhibits, and food will also be a part of the event, as well as appearances from members of the Stranger Things cast. Mark your calendars. +SXSL Via Entertainment Weekly Images via Twitter , White House

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President Obama and Leonardio DiCaprio will meet at the White House to talk climate change

US government issues first guidelines for self-driving car safety

September 26, 2016 by  
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The United States federal government issued inaugural guidelines for the safety of self-driving , or autonomous , vehicles. As more companies test the technology, including road tests like Uber is conducting in Pittsburgh , the guidelines are meant to encourage consistent rules without over-regulating the still-developing industry. The new federal guidelines addressed four major areas. National Economic Council Director Jeffrey Zients and United States Department of Transportation Anthony Foxx appeared together to announce the guidelines. The two officials introduced a ” 15-point safety checklist ,” discussed how regulations currently in play could apply to self-driving cars, called on states to develop consistent rules for self-driving cars, and left an opening for further regulation in the future. Related: Uber launches self-driving cars in Pittsburgh The guidelines were meant to allow government to regulate the self-driving car industry without suffocating innovators moving the technology forward. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration spokesperson Bryan Thomas said, “We left some areas intentionally vague because we wanted to outline the areas that need to be addressed and leave the rest to innovators.” President Barack Obama announced his administration would issue guidelines in a piece published by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. According to President Obama, “Right now, too many people die on our roads – 35,200 last year alone – with 94 percent of those the result of human error or choice. Automated vehicles have the potential to save tens of thousands of lives each year. And right now, for too many senior citizens and Americans with disabilities, driving isn’t an option. Automated vehicles could change their lives.” President Obama also spoke of the need for some regulation – but not too much regulation – as the self-driving car industry develops. He said self-driving cars could make roads “less polluted” and “less congested.” Via The New York Times Images via Wikimedia Commons and Norsk Elbilforening on Flickr

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US government issues first guidelines for self-driving car safety

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